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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tar-jay, How I Loved Thee

I grew up in a smallish city, went to college in a big city... and then another college in another big city. And even though I now live in a ruralish town of 1000 I still think of myself as more of a city person, a displaced city person.

I realized yesterday that I most definitely am NOT a city girl. Excuse me while I pick the hayseeds out of my hair.

I came to this realization when I went to Target in the smallish city.

First off the Target is a multi level complex with it's own parking garage. I pulled into the parking garage and promptly rammed the roof of my big van into the hanging pole with the height restriction written on it. Then I had to wait for the huge line of cars behind me to back up one by one so that I could back up. Let's just say driving my big van in reverse is not one of my strong points, and if you could see my front lawn, or talk to my husband, you'd know this. Nothing says country bumpkin quite like not being able to fit your vehicle into the garage.

I was then directed to park in this small, dark side lot where the reject vehicles must park. It was empty, dark and scary. Nothing says country bumpkin quite like being scared of an innocuous parking garage. In the country we park outside! In an open parking lot! The way God intended!

But I had my sights set on the bulls eye and would not be deterred.

I walked really quickly to the elevator that would bring me up to the store. I got on the elevator and realized that there were two shopping floors in this Target. Yes, two full floors! Two full floors of things I didn't know I needed and yet now cannot possibly live without. I was in the elevator with three men. I smiled, "Hi. How are you?" I said to the one who made eye contact with me. They all looked at me as if I were a complete nutcase, gave me a cursory nod, and went back to examining the floor, walls, and ceiling. I forgot, city people don't make eye contact with strangers or ...gasp... talk to them. Nothing says country bumpkin quite like talking to strangers.

When the elevator doors opened I gasped, so great was my delight. I had to hold onto the wall to steady myself.

This Target was unlike any I have ever seen. To say it was huge would be an understatement. I imagine I must have looked like a country girl who goes into the big city, stands in the middle of the sidewalk, looking up at the skyline, mouth hanging open... except that I was in Target, looking at housewares, and the throngs of people I was holding up were shoppers trying to get off the elevators.

I walked around looking at stuff. I had really gone in to buy the kids Easter stuff and realized it was on the second floor. In the center of the store was an escalator. And there was a separate escalator for your cart. I have never seen such a thing. I stood there for a few minutes looking at it. If I had my camera I would have taken a picture of it, completing the country bumpkin image. I couldn't figure it out, and, since city people don't talk to strangers or offer help of any kind, I took my things out of the cart and carried them up to the second floor on the people escalator. My new welcome mat was filled with shame, hoping the other housewares didn't see it.

I found all the Easter stuff and filled my cart with it, as well as other things that just jumped in there to keep the welcome mat company. Once my cart was filled to the top, I went to the check out. That part of the experience was just like it is at home. Surly teenager with a poor attitude tossing my stuff without care into plastic bags. It warmed my heart to know that some things are universal.

I got in the elevator with my cart to go back down to the parking garage. I was still very pleased with my Target experience. I went push my cart out the door and the wheels on the cart locked up. Not to be deterred I pushed and shoved and bent down to examine the wheels. I wondered if I was on Candid camera and looked around for Allen Funt, before realizing he was dead. I was confused and bewildered. Why was my cart no longer working? The city people offered no help or comments and just pushed past me, letting the door shut in my face.

I dragged my cart with it's unmoving wheels off to the side and that is when I noticed the sign. The sign that said carts are not allowed to leave the building and once you reach this point the wheels will lock up, rendering the cart as useful as, well, a heavy, metal cart with no wheels. If I had my camera I would definitely have taken a picture of the sign.

I stood there for a few minutes, and I'll admit I said "What the fuckity fuck?" so great was my exasperation at this situation. But those city folk, they didn't even seem to hear me... or notice me ... with my big overflowing metal albatross. And none of them offered any assistance. There was no one standing at the door to help you bring your purchases to your vehicle like at home.

So I put the plastic bags on my arms and marveled at how heavy jellybeans are when you buy twenty bags or so of them. And I walked out of the store, the flesh being torn off of my forearms. But that was okay since I was also losing feeling in my arms because the plastic handles were cutting off the circulation.

And really it was all worth it, because it was Target.

I walk to my van, in the scary, dark, deserted parking area. Open the back doors and begin tossing the stuff in.

(Have I ever mentioned that I startle easily? No, well I do. It drives Rob crazy because I scream involuntarily whenever I am startled.)

Anyway, there I am half in the back of my van when I hear, "Hey!"

I turn around and there is a man standing about 2ft away from me. I let out a blood curdling scream. He jumped back through the air a few feet, startled by my scream.

"What do you want?" I asked, and not in a friendly sort of way. More like a I'll cut you if you answer me wrong way.

"I, uh, was trying to get you attention for awhile now." he said looking around.

"Why? What do you want?"

"Uh, is there an elevator in this direction?"

"I have no idea." I answered. Got into my van and slammed the door. I still have my bitchy city girl ways lurking under the surface I suppose. But I'm a big believer in listening to that inner voice.

(The more I thought about the exchange later, the weirder the incident seemed. Why would you follow a woman from the entrance, the well lit entrance where the elevators are shining like a beacon through the dark parking garage?)

I drove off, out of the parking garage, and was stopped by the booth with the wooden arm blocking my path. I had to pay for the privilege of parking. "Where I live parking is like our air, clean and free. Yessirree. Just like the good Lord intended it to be. " And then I replaced the hay stalk in my mouth, adjusted the bib on my overalls, and drove off.


Blogger TBG said...

Oh my it sounds like you were in Target Heaven! I have never been in a target that wonderful...I will have to find one!

9:34 AM  
Blogger Wicked Stepmom said...

I LOVE the escalator for the carts! I first saw this a few years ago when a new fancy Bed, Bath & Beyond opened up around here (TWO FULL FLOORS of stuff for my bed, bath and beyond). I stood in front of it for a few minutes scratching my head, and was all set to take my items out of my cart and carry them upstairs, when an employee who was clearly posted there to help the clueless showed me how this complicated piece of transport machinery worked. If only I had taken notes, but I think it went something like this.

- position cart in front of fancy moving escalator
- push cart into fancy moving escalator
- fancy moving escalator magically latches on to your cart and whisks it away upstairs
- quickly get onto YOUR OWN escalator to meet runaway cart on second floor

9:57 AM  
Blogger Jeana said...

That sounds like something out of the Jetsons. What, no parking space for the hover-crafts?

Never seen or heard of the cart escalator, and we live near a big city. Not crazy about that locking carts outside though. I'm shopping for 6, people! Oh, but only country people buy in bulk I think...

10:04 AM  
Blogger Huskerbabe said...

You had me laughing so hard, I almost spilled my coffee. But as a died in the wool country girl, I would like to point out one small girls know how to park. In fact, most of them can back up a large horse trailer, in the mud and get it just where they want. Well, all except me I think! But I have never seen a cart escalator or locking carts. They sound evil to me. :>) But it does make me curious....why give you two levels to shop on, if they don't assist you in carting all that loot out to your car? Seems contradictory to me!!!
Thanks for writing, you always make my day. And if you run out of hayseeds for your hair, let me know, and I'll send you a bale or two!

10:14 AM  
Blogger Huskerbabe said...

Ooops! Make that DYED in the wool!

10:15 AM  
Blogger Toady Joe said...

As a fellow bumpkin having travelled to the Big City and gone to Target Heaven, I can assure you that the surly staff DO NOT APPRECIATE OR ALLOW taking pictures of their precious cart elevators. Yes, I got busted by the Target Cops. But I didn't let that stop me - I snuck a photo with my camphone, while the D70 was nestled safely (where the T.C. could SEE IT) in the cart. HA.

Thanks for the morning chuckle!

10:33 AM  
Blogger T. said...

Too funny. As a transplanted city chick myself, I wonder how long it will be before I turn into a hayseed myself. As for the cart escalator, I have never seen such a contraption. Hmmm, either my cities are much smaller than yours or the transformation has begun!

Thanks for the giggles!

10:40 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

I've lived in the big city for five and a half years, and I had never used the escalator for the shopping cart until about six weeks ago. I've also never even heard of cart wheels locking up outside of the store. So don't feel bad.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Carmen said...

Chris, your site and my computer are fighting. For some reason, they won't load. It took me three tries to get to this page, which is weird looking. But I shall persevere in my attempts to annoy you! Does your computer have some inside info on me that it doesn't want to share???

But, oh, the thoughts of a TWO STORY TARGET!!!!
And, um, I can parallel park my van. Want me to teach you? Maybe then you can teach me to tap dance.......

12:13 PM  
Blogger HangerMom said...

I'm in awe of your shopping experience! I live in a good sized city (though I wouldn't mind getting back to my small town roots someday) and I have never seen a two story Target, let alone the high-tech excitement of escalators for carts, etc. I don't know what I'd do if they wouldn't let me take my cart to my car. What am I supposed to do about the boxes of diapers I'm lugging around?!

At first I was sort of sad for that guy, that you didn't point out the elevators. But the more I think about it, that is VERY strange that he'd follow you around to ask. Good call on high-tailing it out of there.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Clementine said...

I've been lurking on your site for a while now, and I love it! I hope that you and the kids are healthy these days.

Way to go on getting out of that parkng lot ASAP, and also for letting that man know you meant business. I agree with you: always listen to the inner voice!

1:11 PM  
Blogger B.E.C.K. said...

Yes, listen to that inner voice. I hate remote parking garages and prolly wouldn't have answered that guy at all.

I had to laugh about your experience with the cart escalator. Those things are kinda bizarre, I agree! :-)

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

That was so funny. I'm sorry, but I'm such a city girl. But I would have helped you with the cart dealy. There is always someone standing there looking at it all crazy and I tend to explain it to them. I can't stand how you can't take carts to your car anymore.

1:39 PM  
Blogger novaks8 said...

I live in Eastern North know, where Kellie Pickler is I am sitting here in amazement at your city tales!

Two story Target? I can't imagine.

A cart escalator? I live in a smallish city and I can't think of one place that even has a regular one! We have to travel 45 minutes to a mall that has one!

And you can't push your cart to the vehicle?
How on earth would I go shopping with the three little ones and no cart to keep them strapped to while I am walking to the car?
And how would you carry 25 bags AND keep the kids with you?

Thank you very much but I will take my regular Target any day.

And the guy in the parking garage?
That's weird.
If he is too stupid to find the elevators...oh well.
Once I went to mail our tax papers at like 11pm and as I was getting ready to roll down my window I had the weirdest feeling. LIke that voice telling me "NO"
So I stopped and all of a sudden a very scary man came up to the car out of nowhere. He was motioning to me to roll the window down.I hit the gas and left in a hurry!
I went to a post box that I could just drop them in.

1:52 PM  
Blogger aka_Meritt said...

*** THANK YOU ***

Yesterday, ironically, I too went to Target to play Easter Bunny for a bit. Luckily my city is a medium city that has never heard of these 'new fangled' Targets and has just the 1 story kind. (WHEW!). A PARKING GARAGE???? And PAYING to park at Target???? OMG what is this world coming to?

Anyway - your explanation and the explanation of wicked stepmom I am SURE is going to save my butt sometime in the near future when I DO venture into the stupid stores that are built this way.



2:03 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

i shop at a walmart in salt lake city that's nearly the same; 2 stories, 2 stories of parking, shopping cart escalator.....the main differences are that they have a person there at the cart escalator to put your cart on for you, and you don't have to PAY to park there!! i was SHOCKED when you got to that part!

2:56 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Oh, I don't blame you for being nervous about that guy. That kind of thing scares me. I also startle easily, like when my cell phone rings. Drives my husband crazy!

4:16 PM  
Blogger The Green Family said...

This is the funniest doggone post I have read in a long time! thanks for the chuckle!

4:17 PM  
Blogger Mary Poppins NOT said...

You know, I use the f-word in my head wayyyyy more than I ever used to, thanks to you. It just works so well sometimes. Today's use was classic. And I would go to a different store. No carts to the car, pfew. Paying for parking, pfew. Parking garage too small for real vans, pfew. Who do they think they are, anyway???

4:25 PM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

Poor Chris. I'm coming to visit, and I want to go to this fancy shmancy target! Sheesh!

The other day I drove to the downtown Boston Barnes and Noble, bought my $12 book, and then had to pay $9 US DOLLARS to park. I was LIVID.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Cami said...

I am having problems loading some of your pages as well.

I can't get the uncle entry
or the oreo one. HELP !

So glad Carmen is having the same problem, thought it was just me!

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Amber said...

A Target with an escalator? Where do I sign up? I thought I'd hit the motherlode when they built a Super Target three blocks from my house but just goes to show there's alway something bigger and better out there!!

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Tickled Pink said...

This post was hysterical! I had to see this contraption for myself so I Google imaged it. Of course (!) there's a Flicker group dedicated to people who bring in their camera phones with images of the escalator. The link is:

God bless the Internet!

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Lori said...

Yeah, you must be a country gal because your basic city gal would've run that masher over with the huge car.

I've never seen a 2 story Target with a 2 story parking garage! Your reactions sound just like what I would've done! LOL!

8:00 PM  
Anonymous kathy said...

We once, in the very north of New Mexico and south of Colorado, drove 200 miles ONE WAY to a Tarjay. Here in Mexico, we have no choice but to abstain. One one hand, I can't wait to get back to the US and the comfort of Tarjay; on the other, it is uncanny all the CARP you simply don't need that you find you can't leave the store without.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I have NEVER heard of a Tar-Jay of this "kind"! An escalator for the cart?

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Maliavale said...

I spent AT LEAST three months going to a Wal-Mart in this here big city without 1) realizing it had an upstairs; and 2) noticing the cart escalator. I, too, have made extra special sure not to use it. Hell if I'd know how. But damned if it's not the coolest thing ever.

Love the albatross part, and that guy seems super creepy.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Cheerio's on my butt? said...

Wow! I didn't know all of that cool stuf existed! I live in a town of 1500. No wal-mart or anything. Our fast food is "bob's Drive-in"! I'm glad some of us country bumpkins get to get out once in awhile and keep the rest of us informed. By the way, screaming is good! You can scare the weirdos before they scare you. Hey, it might have saved you! He was probably asessing the situation while getting close enough to you! Scary. Keep screaming!

12:55 AM  
Anonymous Tiddlywinks said...

We just got one of these Targets in our city. I love love love it! Don't have to pay for parking, though. And there is an outside parking lot as well.

We all ohhh'd and ahhhhh'd when it first opened.

1:41 AM  
Blogger Journey Mama said...

I've been in a two-story Target, and spent hours trying to find the stuff I needed, going up and down the escalators. Everytime I thought I had everything, I'd have to go back to the other floor! I'm glad to hear of the love for target, since my husband mocks mine.

2:18 AM  
Blogger Ms. Mamma said...

Sexy sly Target will seduce every time! Metal albatross, that was too precious. Your experience with Mr. Weirdo, disconcerting! Maybe all of those bullshit forwarded emails about the guy in the parking ramp are fo'real! Creepy. Glad your inner kitty bared her fangs! Grrrrrrr.

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Maddy said...

ROTFL oh you have me in tears.

4:41 AM  
Blogger Annalise said...

Sounds a bit like England, what with the people who don't talk and the pay parking and the small parking bays. Except for the whole Target part :-)

5:45 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

Oh man, I feel you on plastic bags cutting into your arms - it doesn't matter if there's a gallon of milk in there or a package of Kleenex - it all weighs 8000 pounds when you have to haul it to your car on your arm.

7:58 AM  
Blogger -R- said...

I do live in a big city, and I just saw a cart escalator for the first time a few months ago. I haven't had the courage to try to use it yet though!

9:20 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Wow! Fellow country bumpkin in the big city now girl. hehe I've never seen a two-story Target and not being able to take my cart to my van would drive me nuts. And I can park my van pretty well except when my husband is riding with me, it's so weird. I also don't attempt any garage that has a 7 foot clearance sign (I think the van is 84 inches but I'm not chancing it). Thanks for experiencing this for us!

9:29 AM  
Anonymous kathy said...

I almost forgot; right before the last time we crossed the border, I stopped at Tarjay for something you can't buy. Their incredible plastic bags. Those bags fit so perfectly in my garbage can and are just the perfect thickness; I tried to buy some but they looked at me with horror and refused. So I stole some. Just ran out of the Very Last Tarjay bag and now we're using Ley, Gigante and Soriana bags. I really miss Tarjay...

10:32 AM  
Blogger thatgirl said...

I startle wicked easily too. I swear, my husband has just about given up trying to think of ways to let me know yes, he's in the house, and he's coming this way. 'Cause I'm gonna scream anyway.

This was a wicked funny post. Soup to nuts.

I'm proving my New Englandness today.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in a big city, all our Targets are 2 stories. But it would cause a riot if they expected us to PAY to park there! What I don't understand is why they keep putting the Target's *inside* the mall... so when you get out of there with your 25 bags, you have to hike to the other end of the mall (where I've invariably parked, can't stand those parking garages at Target). For real excitement, you need to go to IKEA.

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been a long time since I've laughed so hard. Thanks for that. Hahaha!! I'm still laughing and the cart with the locking wheels part.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Laura K. said...

wow I would totally be like you at this.. In my city in Iowa we didn't have a 2 story target! I'm now in Holland and it's soooo diff than the USA. I'm very curious about the carts though! We have one store here that you go down an escalator with your cart and the wheels lock to it but you can still take the cart out of the store, etc.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

And here I was - happy like a clam (are clams happy?) with our new Target? It has a Starbucks!!

A two story Target with cart escalators? Wowie.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Kendra said...

Wow a 2 story target. Never would have thunk it. I think I would be all googly eyes with it not knowing what to expect. I enjoyed reading about your adventure though.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Kristi said...

I too have stared at a cart elevator at out target in San Diego. Never got up the courage to try it, in case I made a fool of myself.

1:51 PM  
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